Meet the Therapist: Celestia Spong
What attracted you to become a therapist?
I have always been interested in human behaviour and thought processes. I was drawn to want to help alleviate people's feelings of suffering, isolation and trauma from the age of eight when I saw those around me experience pain and suffering, and feel “trapped” as a result of their past experiences and current situation. Having experienced my own therapeutic journey I recognised the effectiveness and power of psychotherapy.
I was also extremely excited by the self-developmental journey that accompanied psychotherapy. I enjoyed the feelings of liberation that I felt as I understood my patterns of thought and behaviour and the day-to-day self-compassionate practices I developed, and the compassion and empathy I developed for others. This all inspired me to pursue the studies and training to be able to aid others in their mental and emotional processes. And I love it!
Where did you train?
I studied a Bachelor's degree in Psychology, followed by a Postgraduate certificate in Gestalt Psychotherapy, and a Diploma in Counselling, all in Australia. I have since gone on to do more specialised training in acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and mindfulness and I am currently training in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy at Oxford University's mindfulness centre.
Can you tell us about the type of therapy you practise?
I use an integrated approach to therapy, which means I adapt from a range of therapeutic approaches depending on the client's particular problems and what they are seeking to achieve in the therapeutic process. Rather than trying to match the client to a particular type of therapy, I match psychotherapy to the particular client.
For instance I would use more of a person-centred approach such as gestalt therapy, focused on the patient as he/she exists in the present moment. Gestalt therapy does not ignore the patient’s past, but therapists help patients view their past experiences through the lens of how these experiences are affecting them in the present. This is particularly effective for those experiencing issues with addiction, behaviour disorders, mood disorders, eating disorders, grief / loss, trauma, depression and related conditions.
What sort of people do you usually see?
The majority of my clients are aged between 20 and 40, particularly those that are experiencing emotional difficulties, mood disorders, or family and relational issues. I also work with a lot of individuals embarking on a emotional, spiritual and self-developmental journey and wish to develop skills of self-awareness, self-compassion and mindfulness
What do you like about being a therapist?
I love the therapeutic alliance with clients. I consider it an honour to collaborate and be a part of my clients' mental, emotional, and often spiritual, growth and development.
How long you’ve been with welldoing.org and what you think of us?
I have been with welldoing.org for over a month and love the friendly staff and services they provide me a therapist.
Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?
I always recommend anything by Brene Brown. Russell Brand's book on recovery is also an enjoyable and enlightening read and the Insight app for meditation is great
What you do for your own mental health?
Being in nature is a must to help me ground and rejuvenate. I also practise mindfulness, meditation and yoga daily.
You are a therapist in Central London and online. What can you share with us about seeing clients in those areas?
I work in Marylebone, London and as an online counsellor, I see a good mix of graduate students, working professionals and new parents.
What’s your consultation room like?
I see clients in the St Marylebone Healing and Counselling Centre, it's a small peaceful little centre in the crypt of the church. I do however work predominantly online or on the phone.
What do you wish people knew about therapy?
Therapy still has a stigma attached to it but more and more people are recognising the benefits of investing as much in their mental and emotional health as in their physical. Not only to alleviate immediate issues arising such as excessive stress, depression, anxiety, etc., but also to unravel unhealthy patterns and make choices that lead to greater feelings of peace, healthier relationships and often improvements in energy and physical health.
What did you learn about yourself in therapy?
I was able to identify a number of patterns and underlying core belief systems that had been negatively impacting many life choices and relationships. I was able to establish healthy self-nurturing and supportive practises and lead to many improvements in my mental, emotional and physical health. My self-esteem and compassion increased as well as an increased understanding and patience of others.